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New cashless system splits matatu groups

The introduction of a cashless payment system in public transport has sparked controversy between two rival matatu organisations as one supports the new plan and the other has issued a strike notice against it.

The Matatu Welfare Association (MWA), which opposes the system, says its members are running out of business for not complying with its rules and has called for a nationwide strike in the first week of January.

While launching the system this month, Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau said police will not arrest matatu owners for using cash. Instead, the government will not renew licenses for those who will not have implemented it.

According to MWA, about 600 vehicles whose Transport Licensing Board (TLB) licenses expired in November or were due for inspection in the same month have been grounded for failing to implement the cashless system.

GROUNDED

The organisation says thousands of others whose TLB licenses expire on December 31 may be grounded next week for the same reason.

Public service vehicles are supposed to go for inspection and acquire TLB licenses annually. Most operators prefer to do this at the end of the year.

MWA Chairman Dickson Mbugua said: “The cashless system is not linked to road safety and we are demanding that the minister delinks the two and if he does not we are pulling our vehicles from the road.

“You cannot force technology on people when even the banks and other providers are clearly not ready and then punish vehicle owners for a problem caused by other parties in the equation.”

In a rejoinder, Mr Kamau and Matatu Owners Association dared MWA to call for a strike.